June 10, 2010 | by Lisa Mattson
The three most important vineyard management steps in the annual lifecycle of a grapevine are pruning in the winter, grapevine suckering (also known as shoot thinning) in the spring, and of course, harvest of the vineyards in the fall. Watch the suckering grapevine process in this video to learn why vineyard shoot thinning is so important to making quality wine. Our viticulture team usually makes one pass through the vineyards to remove unwanted shoots from the grapevines by hand, but in some years when there’s more rain, the vines require two shoot-thinning passes in order to redirect the vine’s energy toward less shoots and thus less clusters of grapes to concentrate flavors. Shoot thinning is also the first step in allowing filtered light to penetrate the inside of the canopy, assisting with flavor development of wine grapes during the summer ripening period. This task also allows for better air movement within the cluster microclimate—a natural remedy for fungal diseases, such as botryis and powdery mildew.